When a Tiverton woman found a large, colorful spider in her backyard, she shared it online in search of answers. Was it dangerous? Was it poisonous? I knew one thing: it was what my nightmares were made of. I decided to do some investigating to discover if Tiverton was home to an invasive spider or a harmless creepy-crawly.

Instead of killing it immediately, Susan Ferry took a photo of the spider, with eight lanky legs and black-and-yellow torso.

“New visitor. Any idea of type?” she asked.

Comments poured in about an Argiope Aurantia, and after a quick search, there it was. More commonly known as the black and yellow garden spider, this orb-weaver can be found in many different habitats, and while the females can get quite large, they possess no threat to humans. They are actually beneficial to have in your garden, as they love to trap insects of all sizes, like unwanted wasps and flies. Ferry was smart to leave this one be.

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The spider’s home is a sight to see. Their web can be up to two feet across as the spider hangs, head down, in the center while waiting for prey. Its priority is bugs, but if you get too close, they aren’t afraid to bite down on curious fingers. Luckily, their venom does not cause problems for humans, according to Animal Diversity, but if you notice the spider shaking its web, it’s a sure sign to walk away.

After discovering that this large spider is virtually harmless, I can sleep a little easier at night. If you spot an Argiope Aurantia before winter ushers in, rest assured it only wants to eat your bugs, and not you.

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